Speed Reads


Black artist poses as dead body at Philly's 'Love' sculpture, tourists continue taking photos

Nothing gets in the way of tourists' photos at Robert Indiana's "Love" sculpture in Philadelphia — not even a purported dead body.

Keith Wallace, a 27-year-old MFA acting student at the University of California, San Diego who grew up in Philadelphia, wanted to make a political statement about the Ferguson unrest. Michael Brown's corpse was left on the street for hours, so Wallace decided to replicate the tragic detail.

Wallace covered himself with fake blood, put bullet holes in his clothing, and blocked off the area in front of the sculpture with caution tape. He proceeded to lie face-down on the sidewalk for an hour. Two other protesters stood nearby holding a poster that said "Call us by our names."

"You realize, in these cases, there's a disproportionate amount of black men on the receiving end of this police brutality," Wallace told Think Progress. "And as a young black man, it strikes a different chord for me —€” it hits a little closer to home."

Some realized Wallace's action was a political protest and expressed support, while others who realized Wallace was alive were less comforting. One of the protesters told Philadelphia Magazine that an older white woman described the protest to her husband, saying, "They're black kids, honey. They don't have anything better to do." Others still took tourist photos in front of the sculpture. "Dude, come on, he's already dead," one man allegedly said to his friend, followed by laughter.

"My body lay at their feet, and the statue was above all our heads," Wallace said to Think Progress. "So you can still have your picture and choose to ignore the ugliness that was literally right at your feet."